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Magnet Laboratory, A


Published 1959


In the hands of another director, the inner-workings of a magnet laboratory could have caused a whole classroom to fall asleep of boredom. No so when Leacock was hired to produce this twenty-minute version of lab mayhem. Try this: six researchers in a lab at MIT in the late 1950's show-off the power of electro-magnets, and in the process, accidentally set an experiment on fire(Leacock says he did a retake without the fire, but preferred the immediacy of the fire sequence and kept it in). Or this: half way through the film the phone rings off screen, and host Francis Bitter says "tell 'em I'll call 'em back later" while he's looking at the camera, discussing bus bars. Leacock’s fleshed out all the personalities here, from "Beans" Bardo, who cranks up the generator to nearly explosive proportions, to the mysterious Mr. Lin, who barely peeks over his shoulder at us, seemingly in mockery, disdain, or curiosity. Bitter is an important historical figure, whose degaussing techniques spared many an allied vessel from destruction by magnetic underwater mines during WWII. The generator shown was from Pittsbugh's street car system, relocated to MIT for use in Bitter's lab. This film is from the landmark Physical Science Study Committee (PSSC) series of films. Produced by Kevin Smith and Dr. Jerrold Zacharias.


Run time 21:00
Producer Richard Leacock
Production Company Education Development Center, Inc.
Sponsor David Peters
Audio/Visual sound, b&w

Reviews

Reviewer: amyv - - August 23, 2010
Subject: What we need is more PSSC films
Thanks for saving these 2 films. If it's at all possible, please find and post more. I stopped teaching in 1990 to be at home with kids and when I came back to school, the reel-to-reel versions of PSSC must-haves had disappeared -- they'd been chopped up piecemeal by ztek in their Cinema Classics. I've been scrounging around for the entire films for years. Thanks for giving me this one which I did not have. Please do all physics teachers (and students) a good service and post any more you can get your hands on!!
Reviewer: markpolkc - - December 15, 2009
Subject: Physics at its best!
I remember watching this movie in my first year at Milwaukee School of Engineering. It always stuck with me. I've always hoped that it would be posted on the Internet. Real-world physics doesn't get any better than this! This movie is a classic!
Reviewer: radioman714 - - September 20, 2009
Subject: Great Little Short
Great short about magnetism. A good physics lesson.
Reviewer: NickRusnov - - April 3, 2009
Subject: Fun and Educational
This is an fun and very educational short made by some physicists with a huge generator and a penchant for melting copper wires. They are obviously having fun with the subject matter, and explain a lot of interesting things about magnetic fields and induction. It's quite educational and amusing, and a great look at university laboratory culture in the '50s.
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